Soaring

How to soar in your writing life…and as a result, the WHOLE of your life.

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What do you need to do to help you soar in your writing life? Join me for a Lesson in Creative Thermodynamics!

LINKS:

See the illustration and leave a comment on the Lesson In Creative Thermodynamics

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Endlessly Inspired

This week we take a look at the publishing industry, your goals, and how you can become endlessly inspired and creative…

Learning about the realities of the publishing industry can free you to create your own definition of success (that may or may not include traditional publishers). Step 1 towards success is to imagine your vision. Step 2 is to turn up for your writing, something the new StoryAWeek newsletter can help with!

For industry perspective: Jane Friedman’s The Hot Sheet: https://hotsheetpub.com/

Leave a comment about this episode: https://storyaday/episode259

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A Writer’s Vacation

This week I talk about the  creative boost I got from my recent travels, and how you can get a similar boost in your writing life, without even leaving home.

This week I talk about the  creative boost I got from my recent travels, and how you can get a similar boost in your writing life, without even leaving home.

I also tease some of the upcoming events at StoryADay as we look towards the change in seasons.

Want more?

Join me at the Writer Unboxed OnConference 2022: https://writerunboxed.com/2022/08/05/writer-unboxed-onconference-community-focus/

Get the StoryADay Short Story Framework: https://storyaday.org/framework

Networking Without Nerves, a conversation with Coach Larissa Sjarbaini

Crafting a writing life isn’t all about knowing where to put commas and how to develop characters. It’s also about engaging with other humans. This week I’m in conversation with Larissa Sjarbaini, a high performance coach, about how to do that and why you might want to, even if you’re an extreme introvert. And stay tuned for an opportunity to develop your own game plan for a writing life

LINKS

Set Yourself Up For Success sign up now!

Something Has To Change

It’s not just your protagonist who must change!

In a story your protagonist faces the possibility of change before they can  solve the problem they face, win their true love, or defeat their enemy…in short, achieve their heart’s desire.

Funny thing is: as writers, we face that moment of decision too.

That’s what I’m talking about on the podcast this week.

Q&A For May 2022

We got together this morning for a writing sprint and to get some questions asked and answered, about the challenge.

Watch it now:

I know it was too early for some of you, but I opened up a Q&A session about StoryADay May this morning and recorded it, so you don’t have to miss out.

Some of the questions answered:

  • When do the prompts arrive (and how)?
  • Where do we comment?
  • Should we post our stories somewhere?
  • What are Story Sparks?
  • What will the Fun-Size Challenge tasks be like? 
  • What if I ‘fail’?


You can watch me, and some veteran StoryADay writers, tackle these questions in  the replay here or, if you’re subscribed to the StoryADay Podcast the audio version of it should show up in your feed today.

SIGN UP FOR STORYADAY MAY 2022

If you haven’t yet signed up to participate in the Classic Challenge or the Fun-Size Challenge, you can do that here.

(If you have signed up already you would have received a “Day 0” email from me, yesterday. No need to do anything further.)
If you don’t sign up, I can’t send you daily emails during the challenge, but you’ll still get my weekly(ish) notes of encouragement.

Still have questions? Post’em below.

Haven’t signed up yet? Get on that!

Everything Else, We Can Learn

Do you believe that you have a right to write? Not that people in general have a general right to be creative. Do you believe that you, specifically, have a right to write? Even if it takes time away from your partner, even if it takes time away from your kid, even if, even if, even if…

Do you believe you have a right to write? Do you believe your voice is important? Do you believe your voice matters?

Mindset is I’m coming to believe more than half the battle when it comes to writing. Everything else? We can, we can learn as we need it. I think getting that in place is huge.

If you need a place that’s snug and safe, to work on your writing practice, consider joining us in the I, WRITER Course. Find out more.

[Writing Prompt] A Rose By Any Other Name

In keeping with this month’s theme of Achieving Wins and Celebrating, limit yourself to 1000 words for this story and just get it done.


The Prompt

Write a story that starts at the end. The story must include a flower.

Tips

  • I’ve given you the restriction of including a flower, because when we have too much freedom it is paralyzing. I bet as soon as I said ‘flower’ your mind starting turning over how it could get a flower into a story.
  • Starting at the end is a fun way to tell a story. It’s a fun for the reader, as they try to unpick the puzzle of how your character ended up *here*. It’s good for the writer because we aren’t tempted to write a story-with-no-point. We know it’s going somewhere and we have to figure out how to get there!
  • All our stories should be about something, should hvae a point, should make the reader say ‘ah, yes, I must keep reading to find out why…”. Often, in the process of writing our ideas, we forget this, or get lost in the details. Telling a story in reverse (or at least starting at the end and jumping back in time) is a great exercise to cure us of this.
  • Brainstorm some ways your story could start that would intrigue a reader. Is your character standing on the roof of a building looking over the edge? Are they running? Are the police leading them away? Are they laughing gleefully as someone plunges a knife through their heart? (Yes, more Star Trek references! Bonus points if you can identify the episode.)
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If you share you story somewhere (and here’s why you might not want to) post a link here so we can come and read it.

Leave a comment to let us know what you wrote about today, and how it went!

5 Tips for A Successful NaNoWriMo

It is November and you know what that means? The whole writing world has been taken over by NaNoWriMo. 

As someone who has been participating in and leading creative challenges for over a decade, I have some tips to help you make the most of this month of extreme creativity.

Continue reading “5 Tips for A Successful NaNoWriMo”

Write on Wednesday – Quick Story Formula

This is an awesome way to quickly launch (and finish) a new story, any time you have time to write but are short on inspiration. Try it!

 

Use this story formula to to create an interesting character, give them a desire, kick off some intriguing action and plan the kind of resolution you want. Continue reading “Write on Wednesday – Quick Story Formula”

[Write on Wed] Story Sparks for May 2018

We’re less than a month away from StoryADay May 2018.

Yes, I’m going to be providing you with optional writing prompts. The best stories, however, come from ideas that you care about.

You can use my prompts, but it is going to be the sparks of ideas that you collect, that ignite your stories.

That’s why, before every challenge, I encourage you to gather Story Sparks, fragments of maybe-story-ideas.

The Prompt

Gather three Story Sparks a day for the next week.

Tips

  • Read this post on Story Sparks, with some ideas to get you started.
  • Read the “Secrets To Your Success” article from the StoryADay Essentials series, which defines a Story Spark and how you can use them to ‘win’ StoryADay.
  • If you’re already on the mailing list, dig out the Creativity Bundle you received when you subscribed, and use the Story Sparks Catchers I created for you. If you aren’t on the mailing list, sign up to get your Story Sparks Bundle now!

The StoryADay Productivity Bundle sign up button

If you collect three Story Sparks a day now, you will

  • Gather 21 interesting nuggets for inclusion in stories, this week alone
  • Start looking at the world like a writer does: it’s all material
  • Train your brain to start thinking creatively
  • Be bursting with ideas when you sit down to write!

Go!

[Write On Wednesday] A Prose Sonnet

Today’s prompt continues the month’s theme of looking at different short story forms you can try out.

This one’s a challenge, but really fun.

Right-click to download the audio only

The Prompt

Write a story in 14 sentences

Tips

  • You can simply write 14 sentences.
  • You could use the Petrarchan form of sonnet where the first 8 lines/sentences propose an argument or an idea and the second 8 answer or refute it.
  • You could use the Shakespearean form, with three groups of 4 linked sentences, followed by two lines/sentences that provide illumination, a revelation, a twist or an explanation.
  • You could write a sonnet series, with each group of 14 lines fulfilling a different function in your story.
  • Writing this way is hard but it frees you. Instead of worrying about writing well, you’re concentrating on the form. Sometimes that tricks your brain into writing really well; sometimes it’s just a triumph to have written at all.

Leave a comment telling us how it went!

[Write on Wednesday] Lists As Stories

This month I’m pushing us to write short stories in odd forms, lists, conversations, letters, all kinds of things.

Short stories can be told in narrative form, like mini-novels, but they don’t have to be. Part of the fun of being a short story writer is the ability to twist people’s brains, surprise them, make the familiar unfamiliar. You can do that with your images, but you can also do it with a story’s form.

The Prompt

Write A Story In The Form Of A List

Continue reading “[Write on Wednesday] Lists As Stories”

Write About A Writer – a writing prompt for 31 May, 2017

You’ve made it! You’ve written stories all month long — whether you’ve written every day, or on and off throughout the month — I congratulate you!

Make sure to come back tomorrow for three things

  • The June Serious Writers’ Accountability Group — make your commitment to your writing for next month
  • Details about StoryFest — your chance to get your favorite story featured on the front page of StoryADay.org
  • The mini-critique group I’m running next week, to help you whip your stories into shape in time for StoryFest.

But before all that: one more story to go:

The Prompt

Write A Story About A Writer

Tips

  • Feel free to take out your aggressions on me! Feature a writer who turns on their teacher/mentor/professor!
  • Channel Stephen King’s “Misery” and feature a stalker.
  • Take the reader through all the goys and perils of the writing journey
  • Or use the conceit of a writer character to do something that couldn’t really happen in real life.

And after you’re done, write a blog post or a journal entry capturing all you’ve learned about yourself as a writer this month. Resolve to build on your strengths. Keep what you write somewhere safe, so that next time you have a big writing push coming up, you can benefit from all these lessons!

If you share your post online, be sure to send me a link (in the comments below or by email) or tag me on social media!

And don’t forget, StoryFest is coming, June 10-11!

Thank you all for playing along this month. Without you, I wouldn’t be doing any of this.

Keep writing!

Hansel & Gretel – A Writing Prompt for May 30, 2017

Today I wrap up the story structure series with a bang.

The Prompt

Write a Hansel & Gretel Structured Story

Tips

  • The Life-Changing Moment in this story structure, comes at the start.
  • The Life-Changing Moment may have happened ‘off-stage’ before the story starts (imagine the story of Hansel and Gretel where the kids are already alone in the woods. That would work, right?)
  • Remember to focus on what your character would never, ever choose to do, and how the circumstances are forcing them to face that (for example, Hansel and Gretel would never disobey/mistrust the adults in their life, but life is giving them a pretty clear directive to do just that).
  • This story starts with a big moment, and then throw complications at your character. Once you’ve told us enough about the character for us to figure out how they’re going to survive, you can end the story.
  • If you’d like to read more about this story structure, check out this post.

Don’t forget to post in the community or leave a comment to tell us how you got on today.

The Ugly Duckling – a writing prompt for May 29

Today we continue looking at story structure: this time, with what I call the Ugly Duckling Structure.

The Prompt

Watch the video and write an Ugly Duckling story

Tips

The ‘life-changing moment’ comes in the middle of this story

Balance out every challenge from before that moment, with a similar, but different moment afterwards. Show us how the character (or their circumstances) have changed now.

This story might have to be longer than a Cinderella-type story. Sketch it out, if you don’t have time to do it justice today.

Read this post, which talks more about the Ugly Duckling structure.

Don’t forget to leave a comment or post in the community and tell us how you’re getting on. What have you learned this month, so far?

A Cinderella Story – a writing prompt for May 28, 2017

Today’s prompt is part of a workshop that I give on story structure. (If you’d like me to talk to your group, ask!)

The Prompt

Write A Story With A Cinderella Story

A Cinderella Story Structure

Cinderella Story Structure

In the story of Cinderella our heroine wants to find happiness. She tries and fails and tries and fails. A lot.

  • She tries to find it by being nice to her sisters and stepmother, but they just treat her terribly.
  • She tries to find it by going to the ball, but she’s not allowed to go.
  • She tries to find it from her fairy godmother. This one almost works, but there are time limits and she fails. When the love-struck prince can’t find her, all is lost.

Eventually, the life-changing moment comes at the end of the story when the prince finds her and Cinderella gets to choose her happy ending.

(In most versions she says yes and marries the prince; in every version, this choice is the first time Cinders has had any power. This is when her life changes.

So, this is where the story ends because the character’s story arc is over: She has her chance to reach her goal, at long last.

(If you want more information, check out this post.)

Non-Traditional Love Story – a writing prompt for May 27, 2017

The Prompt

Write A Non-Traditional Love Story

Tips

  • You could use non-traditional partners for your love story (it doesn’t have to be romantic love; and if it is, it doesn’t have to be between straight, white people).
  • The way you tell the story could be non-traditional (it could be told in a non-narrative form).
  • Here’s my review of The Sentry Branch Predictor Spec by John Chu (with links to the story).

Letters – a writing prompt for May 26, 2017

Today I throw you one of my favorite prompts, because I love reading these kinds of stories.

The Prompt

Write a story in the form of a series of letters

Tips

  • The ‘letters’ can be anything really: letters, journal entries, found documents, Tweets, Facebook updates…
  • The letters can come from only one person — in which case we hear only one side of the story.
  • The letters might come from various sources and in various time periods.
  • You might mix letters with documentary evidence (school report cards, obituaries clipped from a newspaper, a termination document from an employer).
  • Your writing might be in the form of a ‘gospel’ for a new religious or political cult.
  • This might grow to be a bigger project than you can handle in one day…

Prose Sonnet – A writing prompt for May 25, 2017

Today’s prompt sticks with this week’s theme of pushing the form of the short story away from the idea of it as a ‘mini novel’.

Short stories are incredibly versatile and short story readers are willing to work for their thrills. Let’s get to it:

The Prompt

Write a prose sonnet: a story 14 sentences long

Tips

  • Of course, our prose sonnets aren’t going to rhyme or be in any particular rhythm (although you can shoot for that if you like).
  • You can draw inspiration from traditional sonnet forms. For example, it could follow the structure of a Petrarchan sonnet which presents an argument or observation in the first 8 lines (sentences, in this case), then a  turn in the next line. Then you can spend the rest of the story ‘answering’ the question/observation/argument of the start.
  • You could model your story on a Shakespearean sonnet: three groups of four related sentences, and a final two-sentence ending that perhaps turns the story upside down OR reinforces its message.
  • You could go from the specific to the general and end with a universal truth, or set the story up the other way around.
  • One powerful image might be all you need in a story this length: a grandparent with their grandchild, feeding the ducks, for example. Placed at either end of your story (or in the middle), this image might allow you to illustrate a theme on relatable, specific and still universal levels.
  • You could also write a sonnet ‘sequence’, if your story demands more room. That would mean you write groups of ‘scenes’ in 14 sentences each until your story is finished.
  • For more on the form, read this.

 

Hidden Messages – a writing prompt for May 24, 2017

Today’s prompt was, er, prompted by a brief literary feud that flared up recently.

A TV critic took issue with the latest episodes of the BBC’s Sherlock, complaining that our hero was more James Bond than Conan Doyle’s Holmes. The episode’s writer wrote a response in verse, then the critic wrote back with his own poem. BUT, in the last couple of lines of the poem, he pointed out that he had embedded a hidden message in his words (the second letter of the first word of every line spelled it out).

I was so tickled that I’m stealing the idea (which he stole from Conan Doyle, so I don’t feel bad).

The Prompt

Write a story with a hidden message

Tips

  • You could make the first letter of every sentence spell out a message.
  • You could make the first/second/third/last word of every sentence add up to a secret message.
  • You should probably start by writing out your secret message and then figuring out the rest of the words in your story, so it fits!
  • This will force you to break all the normal rules of your process of storytelling. Don’t be afraid. Be bold. At the very least you’ll learn something about your process!

Go!